Neurosurgeon, philanthropist team up for a cure

15 Oct 2013

External link: Listen to Beverley Trivett's interview with Terri Begley on ABC 612 Brisbane (25/09/13).

After years of losing patients to brain tumours — despite having access to the best of modern medicine — a Brisbane neurosurgeon has had enough.

Dr Sarah Olson has teamed with businesswoman and philanthropist Beverley Trivett to raise funds for brain tumour research at The University of Queensland.

“I had an epiphany one day when I realised that surgeons such as myself cannot cure brain tumours,” Dr Olson said.

“Only research holds the key to improving treatments for these devastating cancers.

“By investing in our most promising researchers today, we can make a difference in the treatment available tomorrow.

“I am tired of watching tumours destroy my patients and their families.”

Dr Olson has joined the board of the John Trivett Foundation, established by Beverley Trivett in 1998 after losing her husband John to a primary brain tumour.

The foundation is raising $1.5 million for a senior research fellow to be based between two institutes at UQ: the Institute for Molecular Bioscience and the Queensland Brain Institute.

“It has been 16 years since my husband died and patients with brain tumours today have no better chance of survival than they did when John was diagnosed,” Mrs Trivett said.

“There has been some important progress made in brain research but we still don't understand why people develop these dreadful tumours and why they grow so rapidly.”

IMB Director and brain researcher Professor Brandon Wainwright said the John Trivett Foundation's generous support already had enabled discoveries in brain research.

“The foundation's previous investment in my laboratory at IMB allowed us to make great strides in understanding the genetics behind the most aggressive types of adult and paediatric brain tumours,” Professor Wainwright said.

“The senior research fellowship will allow us to continue this work in concert with QBI and other Brisbane researchers.”

QBI Director Professor Perry Bartlett said the support of the John Trivett Foundation would be invaluable in coalescing the city's brain cancer research.

“Several different labs are working on brain tumours at QBI, IMB and beyond, but no single group is solely focused on these cancers,” Professor Bartlett said.

“The senior research fellow will integrate and lead these efforts to oversee brain cancer research in Brisbane.”

To donate to the John Trivett Foundation, please click here or call (07) 3346 6300

The John Trivett Foundation for Research into the Causes of Primary Brain Tumours was established in 1998 to commemorate and continue the philanthropy of the late John Trivett, who was born in Sydney in 1939. He died in Brisbane in 1997 of a glioblastoma multiforme. John was indefatigable when it came to doing what he loved. He created successful businesses in Perth, Sydney and Brisbane and in so doing inspired colleagues, staff and clients. He was committed to supporting the communities that were loyal to his business endeavours. He is remembered for a number of projects, including his contribution to the restoration of Brisbane's Customs House, and the centenary of the Queensland Art Gallery.

The Institute for Molecular Bioscience is a research institute of The University of Queensland that aims to improve quality of life by advancing personalised medicine, drug discovery and biotechnology.

Researchers at the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) work to discover the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie the ability of the adult brain to generate new nerve cells and form functional connections.

Media contacts:
Bronwyn Adams, IMB Communications Officer – 0418 575 247, 07 3346 2134 or 
Mikaeli Costello, QBI Communications – 0401 580 685 or